Snippet from Silk by Michelle M Pillow
In order to keep his secret formula from the enemy, the dying Dr. William St. James made the impossible choice. He injected the only sample of it into his daughter, killing her chance at a normal life so that an elite superhero may be born. Now, ten years later and utterly alone, Quinlan St. James is still torn between the woman she could have been and the superhero, Silk, she has become.
Nikandros is an immortal Protector, sworn to an eternity in the service of good. His is a lonely existence, one chosen long ago. Believing that Quinlan might be selling her father’s formula to the highest bidder, the Protectors send him to seduce the reclusive billionaire. However, instead of a coldhearted conspirator, he discovers a lonely woman with a heart of gold—and a secret identity. Now it’s up to him to prove her innocence without blowing his cover.
Rating: Contains graphic sexual content, adult language, and violence.
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Michelle M. Pillow
His touch burned into her skin like liquid fire, as he clutched her arms in what must have been desperation and panic. It was more memory than any grown woman should have of her father. Everything she had been was lost in that moment of betrayal–a violation worse than death because it could never end, could never be escaped.
The father gave her life, but the scientist took it back. She had been sixteen, in the prime of her youth. He killed her that day. Her father–genius, patriot, madman, scientist–had been given no choice and in turn didn’t give her one. He was dying. It was her or the enemy. And so he chose the impossible. He chose the death of his child in exchange for the birth of a new elite superhero.
That is why Silk could never hate her killer.
Quinlan St. James gasped as coffee spilled over her dark designer pantsuit. Blinking, she glared after the hoverboarders who trailed by, laughing rudely at her. Their boards glided noiselessly over the uneven sidewalks of Pierson Park, carrying the spike-haired lads to their next victim.
She clutched her newspaper under her arm as she leaned over to pick up the cup and throw it in the trash. She didn’t mind the kids, not really. They were just being young and obnoxious. She should have been watching for them, but her mind was clouded with other things. Brushing the brown droplets off her suit with the back of her hand, she sighed. The suit was stained, but it wasn’t like she needed to be anywhere that it would matter.
Quinlan turned around and headed straight back to the quaint little sidewalk coffee vendor. The man behind the counter wiped his hands on his twenty-first century green apron and automatically handed her another cup. As she made a move to reach for her card, but he smiled and waved her away. Quinlan nodded at him and walked back over to her customary bench beneath the shade of a tall oak tree.
She took a small sip before setting the cup down. Coffee was better in the old district. They still ground it by hand and brewed it in refurbished coffee machines. Flipping to the science section of the New Pierson City Times, her face fell as she saw her father’s cheery expression staring at her. Quietly, she scanned the feature article on him.
Ten years after his unexplained death, Dr. William St. James, renowned genetic engineer, will be inducted into the Scientific Achievement Hall of Fame this weekend. Dr. St. James spent the last two decades of his life fighting the war against genetic diseases … work that is the foundation of modern genetic study….
Quinlan narrowed her gray-green eyes, refusing to cry about things she could not change. She looked silently up at the bright blue sky. Clouds peeked down from behind the tree limbs and the dark skyscrapers of the oldest section of the city. Nearby, the motor of a 1950 Chevy Fastback revved as it gave tourist rides around the historical section of the park.
Quinlan frowned. The newspaper wasn’t telling her anything she didn’t already know. Sighing, she turned back to the article anyway.
The official induction will be held at the St. James Estate in East Bend this Friday. It is the first time since Dr. St. James’ death that the home will be opened to guests. Dr. St. James’ daughter, Quinlan St. James, owns the estate, a renovated castle from England…. Miss St. James is … a reclusive billionaire. An invitation only cocktail party will follow the official induction, where some of the scientist’s papers will be on display for the first time, along with some of his earlier inventions. All items are being donated to the Genetic Science Museum.
Even now caterers and decorators invaded her home. It was the whole reason she’d come into the city. The giant photograph the museum had sent over of her father had been staring down at her for days, bringing up a myriad of emotions she didn’t want to feel.
Quinlan’s eyes skimmed the rest of the article before carefully folding it up. It didn’t even come close to describing the full truth of her father’s work–the strange late night visitors they’d had while she was growing up, the coded messages he received at all hours. She didn’t care. Let the public have their fairy tale version.
Grabbing her coffee, she stood and walked over to the trashcan. William St. James’ face stared up at her from the paper she held, smiling in a crooked way she still remembered. She didn’t smile back. Hesitating slightly, she threw the article away.
* * * *
Nikandros Grant pulled his hands from the pockets of his blue jeans as he pushed off an old fashioned light post. He liked the historical park. It reminded him of a simpler time in human evolution–before technology advanced so far that even walking across a city or stopping to flip a light switch became unnecessary.
Trailing over the uneven cement path, he followed the slender beauty he was watching. She stood, walking over to a trashcan as she finished her paper. Looking down at the small leather wallet in his hands, he smiled. The hoverboarders had been a perfect distraction. Although, when Miss St. James had dropped her coffee and went to retrieve a new one, he’d been worried she’d discover it was missing.
Passing the trash, he glanced over to the side. He saw the article she’d been reading neatly folded on the top of the pile. His old friend’s face smiled up from the black and white photograph. Nikandros let loose a quick, humorless chuckle at William’s 2-D expression. Silently, he nodded at the photo. William had been a good man.
Quinlan hardly looked as he had imagined her when he first found out about her plan to make William’s personal documents public. She didn’t take after her father at all. William had been a squat, short man with a sunny smile and laughing blue eyes hidden beneath spectacles. His daughter was a tall, slender woman with a serious face and wide gray-green eyes that pierced silently as she studied everything around her.
His gaze automatically strayed to her hips and thighs. Wicked thoughts danced in his head and he wanted to groan his sudden wave of sexual frustration to the world. Nikandros grinned in his wickedness. He was a man after all and it was his assignment to ‘watch’ her. She was beautiful, which would make his job of seducing her all the more pleasurable–and all the more dangerous.
After studying her case file, it was determined that a new love interest is just what a woman like her might need. Seduction was always a dangerous game and Nikandros knew he would have to be careful and not get too involved. It wouldn’t be hard. He had never gotten too involved before. Besides, he had to find out exactly where her sympathies lay. He only hoped William would forgive him for anything he had to do.
Quinlan was a recluse that kept to herself. She didn’t have a job, as she was independently wealthy, thanks to her inheritance. She didn’t have any close friends, no serious boyfriends or known lovers. She didn’t own a pleasure droid like most rich women. She didn’t go to sex clubs or belong to sexual consent groups. Although, he had been able to uncover the fact that she did have a subscription to some pretty risqué magazine-discs. It at least proved that she wasn’t completely made of ice.
With an inward groan, he watched the flexing muscles of her backside. His hand twitched. With a figure like that, it would be a sin for her not to use her body to its full potential.
Quinlan took a corner, rounding slowly away from the park to a more private section of the historic district. She seemed more intent at staring at her coffee cup than looking around at the shrubbery landscape. Taking the opportunity to approach, Nikandros began to jog after her.
“Miss!” he called lightly. “Miss, wait! I believe you dropped this.”
Quinlan blinked at the sound, but kept walking. She was lost in thoughts of the past and the speech she would have to give to her father’s old colleagues. Some of the old men had been hounding her for weeks, ever since the announcement that she was donating a large portion of her father’s work to the museum. It seemed they all wanted a piece of it first.
It wasn’t her idea to get rid of the boxes of old stuff. When Henry Thompson, the museum’s head coordinator, first contacted her with the news of her father’s induction, she thought it a very fitting place for his life’s work to go. Besides, with the added publicity of her father’s career and death, old skeletons would come out of the closet to play.
Feeling a hand on her arm, she jolted in surprise.
“Miss,” Nikandros said, smiling brightly for her.
Quinlan turned at the sound, blinking to see who’d stopped her. Her wide eyes moved up to a face. She was startled to see such a handsome man trying to get her attention. For a moment, she stood, just staring at him. His teeth were white and straight, hidden beneath the most gorgeous mouth she’d ever seen.
His body was in fine shape, if the strength of his hand was any indication. His eyes were dark, almost black in their solid piercing depths, framed by the slashing of his masculine eyebrows. His dark brown hair was a perfect match to his steady gaze, combed back into a short easy style that fit well with the blue jeans and T-shirt he wore. He smiled at her, but she could feel there was more to him than that heart-stopping look.
Quinlan shivered. She could feel a potent heat coming from him and it disturbed her. Glancing down at where he touched her arm, she watched him slowly draw his hand away.
“Miss?” Nikandros said, wondering at her distrustful look. Did she suspect him? Her eyes traveled gradually over him and he felt his body begin to stir at the feminine interest. Quinlan blinked. Nikandros’ grin widened in masculine invitation and he added, “Your wallet.”
Quinlan looked at his offered hand, frowning. Feeling her pocket, she did indeed find her wallet to be missing.
“Ah, thanks, Mr. ah…?” she inquired, taking it from him. She clutched the thin wallet in her hand, taking pains to put it into her breast pocket for safer keeping. She must really be distracted today.
“Nick Grant,” he answered, holding his hand out for her to take. Quinlan took his warm palm in hers. He watched her face to see if she recognized the name. If she did, she didn’t show it.
A memory pulled at Quinlan, but she blinked it away. Nick was a common enough name, as was Grant. She gave him a kind, distracted smile. When he didn’t let go right away, she pulled her hand back and said, “Thank you, Mr. Grant.”
Her voice was soft, unintentionally sultry to his senses. Nikandros glanced down at his palm. Her hand had been as smooth as silk–almost too smooth. He rubbed his fingers absently over his palm, wondering at it.
“No problem,” he murmured, his tone dipping ever so slightly. As he looked at her strikingly alluring face, he almost forgot what he was doing. Her light brown hair blew in layers over her shoulder and she absently pushed it back as she turned from him. She began to walk away. Rushing, he again stopped her, this time with words. “Would you like to go get some coffee, or something?”
Quinlan gave him a small smile. At the playful pull of her look, desire shot through his stomach like a spark. He swallowed and his throat suddenly went dry. She slowly lifted up her coffee cup at him, and said, “Thanks anyway, but I’m good.”
Nikandros swallowed down his disappointment as she walked away. Although, he knew that it was better that she left him. The Protectors would expect a report. The first contact had been made. That was enough for now.
Nikandros sighed heavily. He was old enough to know when a woman’s look held more than passing curiosity. There was a cunning mind hiding behind her eyes. Quinlan St. James was definitely up to something. It was his job to figure out what. If she planned on selling her late father’s formula, as they suspected she might be, it would be his job to stop her.
Quinlan kept her pace slow as she crossed the street and made her way to the long transport limo that waited for her. The driver nodded at her as he opened the door. Her home was about thirty miles outside the city, but with the new transit system in place, it would only take her about ten minutes to get there.
Once alone, she slid across the seat to look out the tinted window. She felt the tires jolt as the limo’s wheels pulled from the street and folded under the car. The car floated soundlessly over the road.
She didn’t realize the slight smile of interest that came to her face as she saw Nick Grant walking along a side path. Her lips parted with a heavy sigh, even as her eyes took in the muscles playing along his firm backside. It had been a long time since she felt a jolt like that when first meeting someone.
It was a good thing she hadn’t struck up a conversation with him. She had seen the heated cast of interest in his eyes when he looked at her. The last thing she needed was a man complicating her already complex life–especially now of all times.
Her home was usually locked up tighter than a maximum-security prison complex. Whoever wanted her father’s formula wouldn’t be able to resist coming to the celebration, particularly with all his papers going for public display. It was quite possible the man responsible for her father’s death would be there. It was up to her to discover who, out of all his colleagues, had betrayed him. Then, she could finally put her father’s memory to rest. After all, it had been ten long years of waiting.
The limo sped up and Nick was blurred out of her life. Quinlan doubted she would ever see him again. Sighing, she leaned back and sipped at her coffee. It was just as well. A woman like her could never keep a relationship.
* * * *
East Bend was a small suburb of Pierson City. The St. James Estate sat just on the edge, far away from the neighbors. Quinlan’s father had bought the ancient family home and moved it from England in his youth. He’d built a stone wall around the edge of the property. It looked serene, but if anyone tried to scale it, they would be in for a stunning electrical shock that would leave them paralyzed for days.
The only way in was through the front gate. The wrought iron bars were well guarded by robotic security. The guards never slept and they never left their post. They hardly even moved to acknowledge the limo, but Quinlan knew their eyes scanned the vehicle to identify all passengers. They would only find her. The robotic driver would register a pulse that the guards recognized.
The yard surrounding her home was green with spring grass. Flowers were beginning to bloom on the landscaped lawn. Little cobblestone trails weaved over the garden, intermingled with statues and benches. In the center was a tiered water fountain with no water. Its old stone was cracked ever so slightly and it was overgrown with vines. Quinlan didn’t have the heart to fix it.
The square castellated home stood tall against the sky. It wasn’t a full castle, just the part that could be restored after so many centuries of decay. It had a narrow stained glass window in the front by the thick oak front door and smaller, framed windows spread throughout the sidewalls. The old stones seemed to have a life of their own and as a child Quinlan loved to touch them, claiming she could feel their energy.
Coming to a stop, the limo door opened automatically. Quinlan stepped out and the limo drove off to the garage. Sighing, she walked up the round sweep of steps leading to the front door of her home.
Her butler was there to greet her in his very formal uniform. He bowed low over his waist and said, “Welcome home, Miss.”
Quinlan handed him the empty coffee cup. He was mechanical like the rest of her staff, so she didn’t bother with pleasantries. “Any messages?”
“Fifty-two, Miss,” said the butler.